Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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April 17, 2014

'Dear Boston:' Local textile studio preserves artifacts for marathon memorial exhibit

Local textile studio preserves artifacts for marathon memorial exhibit

An infant’s white onesie emblazoned with the American flag and the words, “We love our city. Boston Strong.”

A 2007 Boston Red Sox World Series championship shirt signed by Molly with a vow not to let an act of terrorism prevent her from returning for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

A Starbucks apron offering a salute to the city of Boston and the resilience of its people.

They are among 19 items left at the makeshift memorial at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon immediately following the bombings.

In March, they made their way to Museum Textile Services, a conservation studio based in the Ballardvale section of Andover that specializes in the preservation of fabric-based materials for cultural institutions and individuals.

Director Camille Myers Breeze said she was approached last May to participate in a voluntary effort to preserve artifacts left at the temporary marathon memorial site for an exhibit to mark the one-year anniversary of the attack.

“Memories of the minutes and days following the bombing were still so vivid when we were asked to be a part of this effort,” Myers Breeze said. “But I was drawn to the idea of telling the story of the attack in a way that acknowledges the initial emotional response, but also reflects our hope and strength.”

Museum Textile Services technician Josephine Johnson retrieved the artifacts last month from the Boston City Archives.

The items, which included hats, shirts, baby onesies and the Starbucks apron, all were inscribed with often anonymous messages.

Over the next three weeks, the studio’s staff, under Myers Breeze’s direction, undertook their careful conservation.

The team documented, photographed and conserved the items, surface cleaning them of the dirt and debris that had collected while exposed to the elements at the finish line, Myers Breeze said.

“We removed any deterioration products, such as bird droppings, that could negatively impact the preservation and exhibition of the objects,” she said, adding the items were also humidified and gently straightened.

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